First it was “contained.” Then we found out there was a “small leak.” Then, after numerous media reports confirmed it, Japan admitted there was “a big leak,” which only became bigger with time. Then the severity level of Fukushima was raised from level 1 to level 3, the highest since the March 2011 disaster. And now it is many leaks. According to AP, “Japan’s top nuclear regulator raised safety concerns Monday about hastily built storage tanks and their foundations at the damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant after signs of new leaks of radioactive water. The latest leak was found over the weekend in a connecting pipe. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it suspects there may also have been leaks from three storage tanks because elevated radioactivity was detected near them. The levels were not considered deadly.” Oh so it was not the 1.8 sieverts/hour reported over the weekend? Maybe in the case the honorable Prime Minister can take a big swig from the supposedly undeadly water.
But wait, it just gets better:
Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference that the small leak and possible other leaks have added to concerns about the plant’s stability.
They follow a major leak two weeks ago. TEPCO reported a loss of 300 tons of highly radioactive water from a steel tank on Aug. 19, saying most of it is believed to have seeped underground but some might have escaped into the sea. The company has yet to determine the cause or exactly where the water went.
The leakage of water that had been used to cool the plant’s three melted reactor cores triggered fears of similar leaks from more than 300 other similar tanks. The tanks are part of approximately 1,000 tanks holding 330,000 tons of contaminated water at the plant, where the radioactive waste water from the reactors grows by 400 tons daily.
The latest leaks have triggered further concerns about the plant’s ability to manage the contaminated water. Experts have said that radioactive water from underground and utility tunnels connected to reactors and turbine buildings has been leaking into the sea for some time.
Tanaka said he believed the discoveries of the subsequent leak and signs of possible additional leaks were the result of closer inspections after the large leak two weeks ago. That leak was the worst from a tank at the plant, which was badly damaged by a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Tanaka raised concerns about the safety of the foundations of the tank sites. TEPCO recently revealed that one of the tank sites had partially sunk during a test to see if a tank was watertight.
“Because those tanks were built in an emergency situation, it is questionable whether sufficient ground surveys were conducted,” Tanaka said. “We believe experienced companies did a fine job, but we still have concerns and we must step up our watch for leaks.”
Well as long as there is belief, one can ignore the blatanly criminal behaviour of Tepco then:
TEPCO also said it overlooked several signs of leaks — increases of radioactivity near the tanks and higher exposure levels for workers — for more than a month.
But wait, because it gets better. Japan’s response, two and a half years after the catastrophe… is to “vow to take quick action.”
Japan vowed quick, decisive action, including the use of public funds, to tackle the worsening problem of contaminated water pouring from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, as the authorities step in to help the facility’s embattled operator.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government “will step forward and implement all necessary policies” to deal with the flood of radioactive water from the plant, a legacy of the world’s worst atomic disaster in a quarter century.
The government will present a “comprehensive package of measures” on the water problem as soon as Tuesday, a senior official said.
“The government has stayed in the background and extended support for Tokyo Electric’s effort to tackle the problem of contaminated water. But we’ve now decided that Tokyo Electric’s patchwork response has reached its limit, and the government needs to come forward and quickly respond, even by using budget reserves,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
And here is where it gets best: the punchline is just much funding Japan will spend in its “quick action” response. From Reuters:
The Japan government plans to spend at least 40 billion yen ($402.60 million) to contain the leaking of radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Nikkei newspaper said, citing government sources.
The government is expected to announce on Tuesday a package of measures to deal with the crisis at the Tokyo Electric Power Co plant wrecked by an earthquake in 2011.
The government intends to cover all the costs for freezing the soil around the reactors to prevent groundwater from mixing with contaminated water inside the reactor, the daily said.
The work will start this fiscal year and about half of the pledged clean-up money is expected to come from the contingency fund of Japan’s budget, the business paper said.
So… Japan’s response is to spend the mindblowing sum of $400 million, or about 20% of what the Fed or the BOJ monetize any given day, to firmly and decisely deal with the Fukushima debacle…. by freezing the soil.
If this wasn’t reality, this unbearably ridiculous script would never make it past page two.